US-based Patriot Coal Corp said it plans to further reduce thermal coal production in response to continued weakness in market demand.

Patriot disclosed the planned idling of the Freedom underground mine and gave 60-day notice today to affected employees.

The Freedom mine is located near Henderson, Kentucy, US and produced 1.2 million tons of thermal coal last year.

The company said it will now have no remaining uncommitted Illinois Basin thermal coal for this year’s delivery.

During the first quarter of 2012, Patriot idled three Central Appalachian thermal coal mines that together produced about 1.2 million tons last year.

Patriot executive vice president and chief operating officer Bennett K. Hatfield said thermal coal markets remain weak, coupled with low natural gas prices and reduced demand for electricity related to the economic downturn.

"We are taking this step to align production with committed sales," added Hatfield.